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Gene Smith and The NIL Fiasco

+63 HS
Travis's picture
December 9, 2022 at 10:14am

I’m in a position I didn’t really expect to be in. Never in a million years did I think I would feel passive about Ohio State athletics. I grew up in our well-meaning cult and I’ve waxed poetic about future days of introducing my currently non-existent kids to the sport, the school, and the legacy.


Some of my fondest memories are of Ohio State athletics. Gus Johnson calling game winners for Sylvester. Evan Turner hitting a half court buzzer beater, which I was fortunate enough to witness in person. Urban Meyer’s last hurrah against Michigan, another one I was fortunate enough to attend. 


It seems as if they’re slowly becoming the ghosts of my past that won’t be relived through future players, teams, coaches, etc.


I’ve told my father on more than one occasion and one of my friends that NIL may free up Saturdays for me in the future.


It’s crushing in the sense that I grew up loving fall Saturdays, but this NIL stuff has been handled in the worst possible way by the NCAA (color me unsurprised).


Caps be damned, oversight be damned. You couldn’t have a lemonade stand with the proceeds going to charity just a few years ago, but now you have recruits driving cars that are worth more than many yearly household incomes. Just because they’re good at throwing a ball. This, on top of the world class diet, strength/conditioning, incredible dormitories, unlimited equipment at their fingertips, and a free education*.


I put the asterisk on education because we know that many of these players aren’t getting degrees and many of them aren’t going through STEM type majors. Let me be clear, there’s not a damn thing wrong with it either.


I’m absolutely an advocate of these kids getting paid. The universities, networks, and staffs get paid absurd amounts of money because we tune in, those kids deserve a piece of that pie. Without them there’s no game, without us there’s no money.


But, lack of oversight, and the recent calls by Gene Smith for normal fans to pitch in their own legal tender is where I’m near my end point as a fan.


I am fortunate to be able to pay my own bills and I’m still in student debt of my own making. I’m not interested in paying for the next 5-Star from Kalamazoo when the Boosters were absolutely fine putting kids in compromised positions in the past leading to suspensions, lost games, and lost jobs.


From what I’ve heard based on Brian Schottenstein’s messaging and others’ is that the University is having trouble getting boosters to add money to the coffers. These same boosters that would funnel money that would stuff a gym bag full of cash and leave it in a locker room after a game? These same boosters that have been dirty for decades at any and all programs, but for some reason the Ohio State boosters are hiding in the closet now that NIL is real?


You expect, middle class Joe to supplement these players already gaudy lifestyle, when there’s fully capable boosters who could pay out the necessary funds without batting an eye?


There needs to be better negotiation and engagement at all levels of the University and NIL collective organizations if that’s the case. You are responsible for getting the big money to roll in, not asking the little guy to solve your problems. From someone who works on large contract negotiation, this shouldn’t be a hard sell in the slightest. Gene Smith and all collective representation should be in meetings with these boosters to assuage any fears they may have, which is comical in itself considering the aforementioned money in gym bags. They’re nervous giving to collectives to let them handle the athletes? It’s definitely less creepy that way. I’d prefer to see the money come through the collective rather than Booster Berry showing up at 7th grade football games like a macabre horror film.


Some fans will pay and that’s their business and there’s no issue if they decide to do it. For others, like myself, it’s insulting.


I’ve already got one limb in the grave in terms of college football fandom. This move by the University and Gene Smith just adds another. 


If it’s a money game where there’s no oversight and the expectation is the average fan has to save a multibillion dollar university with a multitude of multimillionaire alumni, then you can shove that alliteration where the sun doesn’t shine.


Figure it out Gene. If you want to pay me and provide me a small staff that I can hand pick, I’d bet we could quickly solve this problem with a week’s worth of internal meetings and one month of engagement with the boosters. Pretty sad that I’m this confident, but today, as the kids would say, has me feeling some type of way.


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